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FDA Warns About Unproven Concussion Medications

Sep 3, 2014

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning the public that some dietary supplement makers are exploiting the public's legitimate concern about concussions by offering untested, unproven and possibly dangerous products they claim can treat or cure concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers to avoid dietary supplements marketed with claims about concussions and other TBIs because the claims are not backed with scientific evidence that the products are safe or effective for such purposes. These products are sold on the Internet and at retail outlets and marketed through social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head, or by a violent shaking of the head and upper body, the FDA explains. Concussion requires proper diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring by a health care professional. There have recently been serious discussions and investigations of the long-term impact of concussions on every level on sports, from school and youth sports to professional sports.

One claim of particular concern to the FDA is that any dietary supplement can promote faster healing after a concussion or other brain injury. Gary Coody, FDA's National Health Fraud Coordinator, says that even if a supplement contains no harmful ingredients, the claim of faster healing can be dangerous. "We're very concerned that false assurances of faster recovery will convince athletes of all ages, coaches and even parents that someone suffering from a concussion is ready to resume activities before they are really ready," says Coody. Coody also urges caution with claims that a product can prevent or lessen the severity of concussions or TBIs. According to the FDA, scientific evidence suggests that if concussion victims resume strenuous activities too soon, they run a greater risk of another concussion. Repeat concussions can have a cumulative effect on the brain, with consequences including permanent brain damage, long-term disability and death.

Charlotte Christin, acting director of the FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs says that is “no scientific evidence” supporting the use of any dietary supplement for the prevention of concussions or to reduce post-concussion symptoms, allowing an athlete to return to play sooner.

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